Bulls

Rose downplays prospect of being All-Star starter

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Rose downplays prospect of being All-Star starter

Friday, Jan. 14, 2011
12:25 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.Putting the Bulls current road woes on hold for a moment, the continued ascension of Derrick Rose into one of the faces of the league has been most recently manifested by him vaulting past rival point guard Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics to second place among Eastern Conference guards in All-Star balloting. But as anybody whos ever spent time around the third-year point guard could predict, he downplayed the news.

Some people hit me up, talking about it. Other than that, I dont know numbers or anything, Rose said before Fridays shootaround at Conseco Fieldhouse, where the Bulls will take on the Indiana Pacers a few hours later. Its great, knowing that you have an organization thats behind you, pushing for me to start. I wasnt going to do anything. I think its really up to the fans and Im thankful I have that many votes.

Just put me on the team. Ill be happy like that, he continued, repeating his frequently-uttered position on his All-Star status. Last year, I didnt start, but I had a great time.

Rose was an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve a year agobecoming the first Bulls player to make the team since Michael Jordan in 1998but doesnt see a major difference in potentially starting.

It probably wouldnt change his experience. Probably more media stuff laughs, but other than that, I think just being on the team is a blessing, said Rose, who had 1,225,575 votes to Rondos 1,171,311 when the most recent returns were announced Thursday. I wouldnt want to be near him Jordan right now because he did so much for the Bulls.

I dont look at stuff like that, like the first Bulls All-Star since Jordan, the first starter, he added. Im just happy that they nominated for me to be on that team.

While Rose, reflective of his humble nature, didnt get overly excited about the chance to possibly start in the game, his teammates expressed pride in the recognition shown to the close-knits squads star.

Im happy for him. He deserves it. He deserves to start in that game, a beaming Carlos Boozer told CSNChicago.com. I think hes been the best guard or one of the top guards in the leaguenot just the Eastern Conferenceall season, so its much deserved. He should start in that game.

Chimed in Luol Deng, whos witnessed Roses progress as a professional firsthand: I think he deserves it. Hes been unbelievable so far this year and just seeing him since his rookie year until now, the way hes been able to improve his game every year shows a lot about him as a worker and his work ethic.

Even Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a man who isnt focused on much that doesnt have to do with the day-to-day dealings of his team, acknowledged Roses worthiness.

So far, hes having that type of season and again, theres not much control he has on that, other than to continue to play the way hes playing, said Thibodeau. The fans make that decision, but hes playing at a very high level and I think hes earned it.

Despite his emerging national profile, Rose, remains grounded and selfless, deflecting attention to his teammates.

You have a couple guys on this team thats been playing well, like Lu, Booz, Joakim, he observed. At least they should be recognized for it, but well see.

To further support Rose, the organization will distribute placards to fans attending Saturdays highly anticipated home game against the Miami Heat at the United Center, as well as placing a red rose on the seat of courtside spectators. Paper balloting at NBA arenas ends Monday, but online and text-message voting for the All-Star Gameheld Feb. 20 at the Staples Center in Los Angelescontinues until Jan. 23, with the games starters announced Jan. 27.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

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AP

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

The mending hasn’t yet begun for the Bulls, but perhaps a good sign in moving forward from the Bobby Portis punch that delivered a concussion and broken facial bones to Nikola Mirotic is that it isn’t being ignored.

Fred Hoiberg is being tight-lipped about where matters stand, but he did at least say Portis returned to practice and apologized to the team Friday afternoon. Hoiberg wouldn’t reveal the contents of Portis’ apology and Portis didn’t address the media, but it’s clear things aren’t business-as-usual at the Advocate Center.

“Bobby was back at practice. It was good to have him back in here,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously, everybody’s looking forward to having Niko back in here, as well, hopefully soon.”

When asked about Portis’ spirit, Hoiberg deflected and preferred to talk about what adjustments the team will have to make in the immediate future, especially with rookie Lauri Markkanen having to go against Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge in the home opener Saturday night.

“That’s the biggest thing we have to do as far as preparing until we get our guys back, is throwing different lineups out there and hopefully getting better with our execution,” Hoiberg said.

Justin Holiday admitted that things aren’t normal, saying the actual games to start the season won’t serve as a welcome distraction because this isn’t something that can just be treated trivially.

He wouldn’t venture into getting into his teammates’ head, saying “Bobby came into today like Bobby. We’re not quite sure what he’s thinking mentally. We can’t assume that.”

But one thing that can’t be assumed is a sweeping under or pretending.

“I mean I don’t necessarily think this is a situation for us to get past,” Holiday said. “I think it’s a situation that obviously (needs) to be brought to the forefront. It’s a situation that needs to be taken care of for those two to be able to come together and be brothers again. I don’t think we’re trying to get past it.”

Holiday has been a leader during this early time, so his words and definitive tone were noticeable.

“They say sometimes you need time to heal,” Holiday said. “Again, we have to think about both situations in this. One guy is trying to get back healthy. And again, I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish we could just fix this the right way, but that’s not the case.”

It’s complicated all around, with no real precedent.

For Hoiberg, his handling has two faces. Since Portis is able to practice but has to sit out seven more games on a team-mandated suspension, he has to walk the line of incorporating Portis in daily drills and activities but also has to prepare a team that wasn’t prepared for two power forwards being out for an extended period.

That was on display Thursday as Quincy Pondexter likely played that position for the first time in his career, and it’s highly unlikely Paul Zipser practiced there at all with the depth the Bulls had until now.

“We have to get our guys ready to play positions that they haven’t played,” Hoiberg said. “We’re getting them in here early. We’re getting a group in to work on our execution. Quincy not only hasn’t played in two and a half years but I don’t know if he has ever played the 4.

“You just have to do the best with what you have.”

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

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USA TODAY

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

Quincy Pondexter’s trade to Chicago makes him a newcomer. His birth certificate makes him a veteran. But it’s his story that makes him worth listening to.

Even in the eye of team chaos, Pondexter’s debut with the Bulls had such a special meaning that when he entered the game to start the second quarter, he thought he would come to tears.

Having been out of basketball the last two years after knee surgeries went bad, Pondexter came close to dying in a New York hospital in January when his organs began to fail after a MRSA infection.

Catching MRSA can often lead to death.

“It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. I prayed. My family was there close to me. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. It’s all God. This journey has been amazing.”

His journey took him from being in New Orleans, where his knee troubles started, to being an addition to the Bulls in a trade months ago when the Bulls picked up cash and a second-round pick from the Pelicans.

Pondexter joined high school teammate and close friend Robin Lopez on a team needing some leadership, and due to the punch Bobby Portis threw to Nikola Mirotic Tuesday afternoon, it put Pondexter in position to get on the floor as a backup power forward behind rookie Lauri Markkanen.

If the Bulls were smart, they’d probably put Pondexter in a room to talk to his teammates about his struggles, especially the two teammates who may have to share the same floor in several weeks.

“The competitive nature of our team has been really terrific and we wouldn't want to trade that for anything,” Pondexter said. “It hurts those two guys aren't here right now. But we love them and we love what they brought to this team.

“I think my age on my ID solidifies me as one of the veterans. When you do things the right way, that's what it means to be a veteran. Show up first, last one there. That's what it means to be a veteran. Establishing myself there and doing things that are right, the guys have followed and listened and embraced me and I love it.”

No word on whether Pondexter got teary-eyed when he got a breakaway steal and dunk for his first points since the 2015 playoffs, when the Pelicans were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Warriors.

“I know I’m going to get emotional on the court later on and probably tear up,” Pondexter said after the morning shootaround. “I told Robin that a thousand times. People don’t know what you’ve been through. There are a lot of times they’re not there besides your close family and friends. I appreciate them carrying me through this whole process.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg can relate to Pondexter, with Hoiberg’s heart ailment cutting his career short. When the Bulls coach speaks about the frailty of the game and how precious things are in the NBA, Pondexter is living, breathing proof.

“I’m really really happy for Quincy. For a time there, his life was in danger with his infection. I know he’s really excited to get his career going again,” Hoiberg said. “I never got that opportunity to get back out there. I tell these guys to cherish it ever day. You never know when it can end. All of a sudden. For Quincy to get this chance, it’s awesome.”

Pondexter, with the straightest of faces, called basketball his “obsession” and he felt happy to get back on the floor, if even for a few minutes.

“I love it to death. It’s my life,” Pondexter said. “Basketball is what got me through it---my family and basketball. It was like, ‘How can I make this story even better? Do I quit?’ No. I watched so many inspirational movies, 'Hacksaw Ridge.' They get you through tough times because you say, ‘That’s going to be me.’ I’m going to be able to inspire someone down the road. That’s really helped me.”

A hamstring injury slowed Pondexter in training camp, which would explain his lack of explosive lift in the season opener.

No one was really sure if the Bulls would hold onto him for the season, but it’s clear he holds value beyond the box score. When he finished his media session, Lopez turned to Pondexter and said, “Now you’re stuck with me”, putting his arm around his teammate.

“Being able to play after two and a half years, it feels like hundreds of surgeries, getting traded to this organization. It's been a lot,” Pondexter said. “I wouldn't trade any of that for this moment right now and how I feel in my heart. I can't wait to get on this floor and play with my teammates and try to do something special. The journey is worth it.”